By Kai-Chin Shih/ 8 AUG 2014/ TOKYOJAPAN/talkairlines.wordpress.com
This is the second part of a three part trip report. For the first part from Bentonville (XNA) to Los Angeles (LAX), please click HERE; for the third part, consisting of my flying experience on ANA flight NH1005 from Los Angeles to Tokyo (Haneda), please click HERE.
I had never flown on any Star Alliance member carriers to and from LAX. This flying experience with ANA allowed me to, for the first time ever, step into a Star Alliance flagship lounge. The Star Alliance LAX lounge, operated by Air New Zealand, was opened just about a year ago. The lounge was extremely comfortable and had many features that were rarely introduced by the airline industry in recent years.
The lounge, designed by Gensler architecture firm, featured multiple extremely varying seating areas. Besides the typical lounge-like areas, there were also the balcony overlooking the Great Hall and the extremely impressive outdoor terrace. Since the main seating area was rather boring, I chose to sit at the balcony area while occasionally switching to the terrace, which, in my opinion, was the greatest feature of the lounge.
Free Wi-Fi was offered throughout the lounge. Log In information could be found on every desk.
The buffet areas were located inside the main seating area. Spoiled by Northeast Asian lounges with heavenly food, I was rather disappointed by the food offering at the Star Alliance Lounge. There were limited choices, all rather unappetising.
Right before I left, bowls of Shin Ramen were placed near the tea and coffee area. I found it rather astonishing how the only Asian food many American lounges had was instant noodles. I don’t deny that I love Shin Ramen myself. However, it gives me chills just imagining myself slurping the noodles down my throat in an airport lounge and the horrible breath from my mouth after I finish eating.
(Nevertheless, I saw a young Asian man enjoying his Shin Ramen soundingly when I was walking out.)
There was a media room that was supposed to be playing news or sports. Guess what was being played when I arrived? Family Guy!
Eager to try out every feature of the lounge, I decided to go take a shower. Decorated with large pots of plants, the entrance area acted as the designer’s initial attempt to let flyers relax completely. After entering the shower area, I signed in before being directed into a shower room by an assistant.
The shower experience was wonderful, allowing me to totally calm down before boarding the plane. One small disappointment was that the hairdryer was not working, and the lounge failed to pre-obtain additional ones. Thank god I forgot to wash my hair while taking the shower.
After taking my bath, I proceeded towards the most unique feature of the Star Alliance LAX Lounge: the outdoor terrace. When I entered the area, I was immediately taken away by the beauty of it. Surrounded by the grandiose TBIT terminal, the terrace featured cozy sofas, tables with flames, a water wall, and a bar area. The tarmac, the northern runway, and many other terminals can be seen through the glass walls on the edge of the terrace.
After spending a few hours at the lounge, I decided to leave so I can explore the newly built TBIT. The Star Alliance Lounge gave me an exceptional experience. The overall design was impressive and breathtakingly beautiful. Even though the food offerings were not pleasing, there were plenty of beverage offerings, including many choices of alcoholic drinks, tea packs, and soft drinks. The different seating areas makes the lounge invincible from becoming boring to frequent users.
In conclusion, if the lounge operators hire a consultant for the buffet area, the lounge will no doubt be among the top ones in the world.